Of Nobilitie in Generall: that it is a Plant from Heauen; the Roote, Branches, Fruit.
IF we consider arightly the Frame of the whole Vniuerse and Method of the all-excellent Wisedome in her worke; as creating the formes of things infinitely diuers, so accor∣ding to Dignity of Essence or Vertue in effect, wee must acknowledge the same to hold a Soueraigntie, and transcendent praedominance, as well of Rule as Place each ouer either. Among the heauenly bodies wee see the Nobler Orbes, and of greatest influence to be raised aloft, the lesse effectuall, depressed. Of Elements, the Fire the most pure and operatiue to hold the highest place; in compounded bodies, of things as well sensible as insensible, there runneth a veine of Excellence procee∣ding from the Forme, ennobling (in the same kind) some other aboue the rest.
The Lyon we say is King of Beasts,* the Eagle chiefe of Birds; the Whale and Whirle-poole among Fishes, Iupiters Oake the Forrests King. Among Flowers, wee Page 2 most admire and esteeme the Rose: Among Fruite, the Pom-roy and Queene-apple; among Stones, we value aboue all the Diamond; Mettals, Gold and Siluer: and since we know these to transferre their inward excellence and vertues to their Species successiuely, shall we not ac∣knowledge a Nobilitie in Man of greater perfection, of Nobler forme, and Prince of these?
Can we be curious in discerning a counterfait from the true Pearle; to choose our siens of the best fruit, buy our Flowers at twenty pounds the roote or slip: and not regard or make difference of linage, nor be carefull into what Stocke we match our selues, or of what Parents we choose a Seruant?
Surely, to beleeue that Nature (rather the God of Nature) produceth not the same among our selues, is to question the rarest Worke-mistris of Ignorance or Par∣tialitie,* and to abase our selues beneath the Beast. Nobi∣litie then (taken in the generall sence) is nothing else then a certaine eminency, or notice taken of some one aboue the rest, for some notable act performed, bee it good or ill; and in that sence are Nobilis and Ignobilis v∣sually among the Latine Poets taken. More particular∣ly, and in the genuine sence, Nobilitie is the Honour of blood in a Race or Linage, conferred formerly vpon some one or more of that Family, either by the Prince, the Lawes, customes of that Land or Place, whereby either out of knowledge, culture of the mind, or by some glo∣rious Action performed, they haue beene vsefull and be∣neficiall to the Common-wealths and places where they liue.
For since all Vertue consisteth in Action, and no man is borne for himselfe, we adde, beneficiall and vsefull to his Country; for hardly they are to be admitted for No∣ble, who (though of neuer so excellent parts) consume their light, as in a dark La•thorne in contemplation, and a Stoicall retirednesse.
Page 3And since Honor is the reward of Vertue and glorious Action onely, Vice and Basenesse must not expect her fa∣uours: as the people of Rome created C. Fla•ius from a Tribune, Senator and Aedil• for stealing of a book of Records. Eushicrates, Euph•rbas, and Phylagrus, were ennobled for Treason: and C•ttier by Lewis the eleuenth, the French King, vnworthily aduanced from a mender of Stockings, to be Lord Chancellor of France.
Neither must we Honor or esteeme those ennobled, or made Gentle in blood, who by Mechanicke and base meanes, haue raked vp a masse of wealth, or because they follow some great man, weare the Cloath of a Noble Personage, or haue purchased an ill Coat at a good rate; no more then a Player vpon the Stage, for wearing a Lords cast suit: since Nobilitie hangeth not vpon the aic∣ry esteeme of vulgar opinion, but is indeed of it selfe es∣sentiall and absolute.
Beside, Nobilitie being inherent and Naturall, can haue (as the Diamond) the lustre but only from it selfe: Honors and Titles externally conferred,* are but atten∣dant vpon desert, and are but as apparell, and the Drape∣ry to a beautifull body.
Memorable,* as making to our purpose, is that speech of Sig•smund the Empero•r, to a Doctor of the Ciuill Law,* who when he had receiued Knighthood at the Em∣perours hands, left forthwith the societie of his fellow Doctors, & kept company altogether with the Knights: which the Emperour well obseruing, smilingly (before the open assembly) saide vnto him; Foole, who pre∣ferest Knighthood before Learning and thy degree; I can make a thousand Knights in one day, but cannot make a Doctor in a thousand yeares. Now for as much as the Weale publique of euery Estate, is preserued Ar∣mi• & consilio, this faire Tree by two maine branches dis∣spreddeth her selfe into the Militarie & Ciuil Discipline; vnder the first I place Valor and Greatnesse of Spirit: Page 4 vnder the other, Iustice, knowledge of the Lawes, which •Consilij fons; Magnificence, and Eloquence.
For true Fortitude and greatnesse of Spirit were enno∣bled (we reade) Iphicrates, that braue Athenian, who ouer∣threw in a set battaile the Lacedaemonians, stopt the furie of Epaminondas, and became Lieutenant Generall to Artaxerxes King of Persia, yet but the sonne of a poore Cobler.
Eumenes, one of the best Captaines for valour and ad∣uice Alexander had, was the sonne of an ordinarie Carter.
Dioclesian was the sonne of Scriuener, or Book-bin∣der: Valentinian, of a Rope-maker; Maximinus, of a Smith;aPertinax, of a Wood-monger; Seruius Tullus, sonne of a Bond-woman, thence his name Seruius: Tar∣quinius Priscus, of a poore Merchant, or rather Pedler in Corinth: Hugh Capet, the first of that name, King of France, the sonne of a Butcher in Paris; who when Lewis the sixth, sonne of Lothary, was poisoned by Blanch his Wife for Adulterie, being a stout fellow, and of a reso∣lute Spirit, hauing gathered a company like himselfe, and taking his aduantage of the time, and distempered hu∣mour of the State, carried himselfe and his businesse so, that he got the Crowne from the true heire,*Charles the Vnckle of Lewis.
Lamusius, the third King of the Lombards, was the sonne of a common Strumpet, found laid and couered with leaues in a ditch by King Agelmond, who by chance riding that way, and espying a thing stirre in the ditch, touched it with the point of his Lance,* to see what it was: which the Infant with the hand taking fast hold of, the King amazed, and imagining it as a presage of some good fortune toward the child, caused it to be taken out of the ditch, and to bee brought vp, which after (nursed in the lap of Fortune) by many degrees of Honor, got the Crowne of Lombardy.
Page 5Neither are the truly valorous, or any way vertuous, ashamed of their so meane Parentage, but rather glorie in themselues that their merit hath aduanced them aboue so many thousands farre better descended. And hence you shall many times heare them freely discourse of their beginning, and plainely relate their bringing vp, & what their Parents were. I remember when I was in the Low-Countries, and liued with Sir Iohn Ogle at Virecht, the re∣ply of that valiant Gentleman Colonell Edmondes,* to a Countrey-man of his newly come out of Scotland, went Currant: who desiring entertainment of him, told him; My Lord his Father, and such Knights and Gentle-men, his Couzins and Kinsmen, were in good health. Quoth Colonell Edmondes, Gentlemen (to his friends by) be∣leeue not one word hee sayes; my Father is but a poore Baker of Edenbourgh, and workes hard for his liuing, whom this knaue would make a Lord, to currie fauour with me, and make ye beleeue I am a great man borne, &c.
So that the valiant Souldier you see, measureth out of the whole cloath his Honour with his sword: and hence in ancient times came Rome, Athens, Carthage, and of late the Ottoman Empire to their greatnesse. Honor be∣ing then highly prized, euery one aymed at Nobilitie, and none refused the most desperate attempts for the good of his Countrey. Thus the Decij, Cato, Mar∣cellus, with infinite others, became ennobled, and had their Altars, Statues, Columnes, &c. and were welnigh adored with as great respect, as their Gods themselues.
From no lesse meanesse of birth and beginning, we find many great and famous Bishops, Ciuilians, Orators, Poets, &c. to haue attained to the greatest dignities, both of Church and Common-wealth, and to haue checked with their Fortunes, euen Glorie her selfe. Pope Iohn the two and twentieth, was a poore Shooe-makers sonne; Nicholas the fifth was sonne of a Poulter; Sixt•• the fift, Page 6 of a Hog-heard: Alphenus but a Tailors Apprentice, who running from his Master, went to Rome, and there studied the Ciuill Law, and so profited, that for his lear∣ning and wisedome, he was after created Consull. Vlpian but meanely borne, yet Tutor to Alexander the Empe∣rour. Cicero was borne and brought vp at Arpinum, a poore and obscure Village: Virgil, the sonne of a Potter; Horace, of a Trumpeter; Theophrastus of a Botcher, with infinite others, I might alledge as well of ancient as moderne times.
For doing Iustice,* the Romanes of a priuate man and a stranger, chose Numa for their King: and on the con∣trary, (as Plutarch writeth, comparing them together) Lycurgus of a King, for Iustice sake, made himselfe a priuate man: for, A goodly thing (saith Plutarch) it is by doing iustly to obtaine a Kingdome, and as glorious to pre∣fer Iustice before a kingdome; for the vertue of the one (Nu∣ma) made him so esteemed and honoured, that he was of all thought worthy of it; of the other, so great, that he scorned it.
In like manner, for their good Lawes and doing Iu∣stice, were aduanced to their Thrones and goodly Tri∣bunals, Minos, Rhadamantus (though subiects of Poets fables.) Aratus, Solon, &c. And how fairely (beyond their Lawrels) the name of Iust, became Aristides, Tra∣iant, Agesilaus, with many others, I leaue to Historie to report.
For Magnificence,*and obliging the places wherein they liued, by great benefits, were ennobled, Tarquinius Priscus, a stranger, and a banished man: and of later times, Cosmo di Medici in Florence, vpon whose vertues, as vpon a faire prospect, or some princely Palace, giue me leaue a little, as a traueller to breathe my selfe, and shew you afarre off the faire Tutrets of his more then royall Magnificence, being but a priuate man, as I finde it recorded in his Historie by Machiauell. This Cosmo (saith he) was the most esteemed, and most famous Citi∣zen Page 7 (being no man of warre) that euer had beene in the me∣morie of man, either in Florence, or any other Citie; because he did not onely excell all others (of his time) in Authoritis and Riches, but also in Liberalitie and Wisedoms. For among other qualities which aduanced him to be chiefe of his Coun∣trey, he was more then other men liberall and magnificent, which liberalitie appeared much more after his death then be∣fore. For his sonne Piero found by his Fathers Records, that there was not any Citizen of estimation, to whom Cos∣mo had not lent great summes of Money: and many times also he did lend to those Gentlemen, whom he knew to haue need. His magnificence appeared by diuers his building: For within the Citie of Florence hee builded the Abbaits and Temples of S. Marco, S. Lorenzo, and the Monastery of S. Verdiana, & in the mountains of Fiesole, S. Girolamo, with the Abbey thereto belonging. Also in Mugello he did not only repaire the Church for the Friers, but tooke it downe, and built it anew. Besides those magnificent buildings in S. Croce, in S. Agnoli, and S. Miniato, he made Altars, and sump∣tu••• Chappels. All which Temples and Chappels, besides the buildings of them, were by him paued, and furnished throughly with all things necessarie. With these publique buildings, wee may number his priuate houses, whereof one within the Citie mee•e for so great a personage, and foure other without, at Carriaggi, at Fiesole, at Casaggiuolo, and at Trebio, all Palaces fitter for Princes, then priuate persons. And because his magnificent houses in Italy, did not in his opinion make him famous enough, he builded in Ie∣rusalem an Hospitall to receiue poore and diseased Pilgrims. In which worke he consumed great summes of Money. And albeit these buildings, and euery other his actions were prince∣ly, and that in Florence he liued like a Prince; yet so gouer∣ned by wisedome, as he neuer exceeded the bounds of ciuill mo∣destie. For in his conuersation, in riding, in marrying his Children and Kinsfolkes, he was like vnto all other modest and discree•e Citizens: because he well kn•w, that extraordi∣narie Page 8 things, which are of all men with admiration beheld, do• procure more enuy, then those which without ostentation be honestly couered. I omit, as followeth shortly after, his great and excessiue charge in entertaining of learned men of all professions, to instruct the youth of Florence: his bountie to Argiropolo a Gracian, and Marsilio Fi•ins, (whom he maintained for the exercise of his owne stu∣dies in his house, and gaue him goodly lands neere his house of Carreggi,) men in that time of singular lear∣ning, because Vertue reares him rather to wonder then Imitation.
To proceed, no lesse respect and honour is to be attri∣buted to Eloquence, whereby so many haue raised their esteeme and fortunes, as able to draw Ciuilitie out of Barbarisme, and sway whole kingdomes by leading withaCelticke Hercules, the rude multitude by the eares. Marke Anthony contending against Augustus for the Romane Empire, assured himselfe he could neuer obtaine his purpose while Cicero liued, therefore he procured his death. The like did Antipater, a Successor to Alexander, by Demosthenes, aspiring to the Monarchy of Greece. And not long since a poore Mahumetan Priest, by his smooth tongue, got the Crowne of Morocco from the right heire, being of the house of Giuseph or Ioseph. And much hurt it may doe, if like a mad mans sword, it be vsed by a tur∣bulent and mutinous Orator; otherwise we must hold it a principall meanes of correcting ill manners, reforming lawes, humbling aspiring minds, and vpholding all ver∣tue. For as Serpents are charmed with words, so the most sauage and cruell natures by Eloquence: which some inter∣pret,* to be the meaning of Mercuries golden Rod, with those Serpents wreathed about it. Much therefore it con∣cerneth Princes, not onely to countenance honest and eloquent Orators, but to maintaine such neere about them, as no meane props (if occasion serue) to vphold a State, and the onely keies to bring in tune a discordant Common-wealth.
Page 9But it shall not be amisse ere I proceede further,* to re∣moue certaine doubts, which as rubs clog the cleere pas∣sage of our Discourse: and the first concerning Bastar∣die, whether Bastards may be said to be Nobly borne or not: I answere with Iustinian, Sordes inter praecipuos nomi∣narinon merentur. Yet it is the custome with vs, and in France, to allow them for Noble, by giuing them some∣times their Fathers proper Coate, with a bend Sinister, as Reignald Earle of Cornewall, base sonne to the Con∣querour, bare his Fathers two Leopards passant gardant, or in a field Gules, with a bend sinister Azure: The like Hamlin, base sonne to Geoffrey Plantagenet, Earle of Sur∣rey• Some their fathers whole Coate, or part of the same in bend dexter; as Iohn Beauford, a Bastard of Somerset, bare partie per pale argent and Azure, a bend of England, with a labell of France. Sir Roger de Clarendon, base son to the Blacke Prince, his fathers three Feathers, on a bend Sable, the field Or. I willingly produce these ex∣amples, to confirme our custome of ennobling them; and though the Law leaneth not on their side, yet stand they in the head of the troope, with the most deseruing: yea, and many times (according to Euripides) prouea bet∣ter •hen the legitimate. Who are more famous then Re∣mus and Romulus, who laid the first stone of Rome; more couragious and truly valiant, then Hercules, Alexander, our King Arthur of Britaine, and William the first? more critically learned then Christopher Longolius, Iacobus Fa∣ber; more modest, and of better life, then Coelius Calga∣guinus, the delight of his Ferrara, with infinite others? and where decretals and Schoolemen may beare the bell, those two Grandes, Gratian and Lombard?
A second question ariseth,* whether he that is Noble descended, may by his vice and basenesse lose his Nobi∣litie or no. It is answered, that if he that is ignoble and inglorious, may acquire Nobilitie by Vertue; the other may very well lose it by his Vice. But such are the mise∣rable Page 10 corruptions of our times, that Vices go for prime Vertues; and to be drunke, sweare, wench, follow the fa∣shion, & to do iust nothing, are the attributes and marks now adaies of a great part of our Gentry. Hence the Agrigentines expelled their Phalaris: the Romanes ex∣tinguished the memorie of the whole race of the Tar∣quines, with those Monsters of Nature, Nero, Heliogaba∣lus, &c. the Sicilians Dionysins the later, with others.
Thirdly,* whether Pouertie impeacheth or staineth Nobilitie. I answere, Riches are an ornament, not the cause of Nobilitie; and many times wee see there lyeth more worth vnder a thrid-bare Cloake, and within, a thatched Cottage, then the richest Robe, or stateliest Pa∣lace. Witnesse the Noble Curij and Fabritij, taken from a poore dinner of Turneps and Water-cresses in an ear∣then dish, to leade the Romane Army, and conquer the most potent Kings of the world.
Fourthly,* concerning Aduocates and Physitians, whe∣ther we may rancke them with the ennobled or no. Ad∣uocates or Counsellors being Interpreters of the Law, their place is commendable, and themselues most neces∣sarie Instruments in a Common-wealth; wherefore, saith the Ciuill Law,* their calling is honorable, they ought to be freed of mulcts, publike charges, and all impositions; and to be written or sent vnto, as vnto persons of especi∣all worth and dignitie.
Touching Physitians, though the profession by some hath beene thought seruile, and in times past was practi∣sed by seruants, as Domitian (saith Seneca) imper auit me∣dico seruo, vt venenum sibi daret; and that slouenly Epithite of 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 be by Aristophanes* bestowed vpon Aescula∣pius: yet it is an Art nothing seruile and base, but noble and free, since we know not onely Emperors and Kings, but Saints, yea, our blessed Sauiour to haue cured the sicke;* as Constantine, Adrian, Edward the Confessor King of England, Mithridates King of Pontus, (whose Anti∣dote Page 11 yet beareth his name,) Artemisia Queene of Caria, who first found the vertue of Mugwort, bearing her name in Latine; Gentius King of Illyricum (now Sclauo∣nia) who immortally liueth in the herbe Gentiana: as al∣so Lysimachus in his Lysimachia, Achilles in Achillea, or the Yarrow: Apollo, Podalirius, Moses, Esay, Salomon, E∣zechias. Honor the Phisitian, saith Ecclesiasticus: then a∣gaine, All Phisicke or medicine is from God, and he shall re∣ceiue a reward from the King: The skill of the Physitian shall exalt his head, &c. And as Ptolomy sometime obie∣cted against Zoilus concerning Homer, so may I vnto our Lordly 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or Physicke-haters: Which of them all, trebble their reuenewes, can maintaine so many as one poore Galen or Hippocrates, who though dead many hundreds of yeares since, feed many thousands of fami∣lies, euen at this present? I heere intend no common Chyrurgians, Mountebancks, vnlettered Empericks, and women Doctors (of whom for the most part there is more danger, then of the worst disease it selfe) whose practise is infamous, Mechanique and base.
Fiftly,* concerning Merchants; the exercise of Mer∣chandise hath beene (I confesse) accounted base, and much derogating from Nobilitie, except it be exercised & vndertaken by a generall Estate, or the Deputies thereof. Aristotle therefore saith,* That the Thebanes and Lacedae∣monians had a Law, that none should bee esteemed and held capable of Honor in their Common-wealth, except they had ten yeares before giuen ouer Trading and Mer∣chandise: and Valerius Maximus reporteth, that among other things the Romanes had to disparage Tarquinius Priscus withall, and make him odious to the people, was that he was a Merchants sonne.* Saint Chrysostome vpon that place of Mathew, Hee cast out the buyers and sellers out of the Temple: gathereth, that Merchants hardly and seldome please God. And certaine it is, that the ancient Romans neuer preferred any that exercised Merchandise, Page 12 to any eminent place or office in their Commonwealthe perhaps agreeing in one with Aristotle,* who speaking of Merchants and Mechanickes, saith; Vilis est huiusmodi vita, & virtuti aduersa, The kind of life is base, and con∣trary to vertue.
But some may obiect vnto me the great Estates of Ve∣nice, Genoa, Florence, Luca, &c. where their Nobilitie is nothing disparaged by the exercise of Merchandise. I an∣swer; as their Coines at home they may raise themselues high or lower at their pleasure: but abroad (like Citie Maiors) in other Countries they fall vnder value, and a great deale short of their reckoning.
But if the owner of the Earth, and all that therein is, hath so bestowed and disposed of his blessings, that no one Countrey affordeth all things, but must be beholden not onely to her neighbours, but euen the most remote Regions, and Common-wealths cannot stand without Trade and Commerce, buying and selling: I cannot (by the leaue of so reuerend iudgements) but account the honest Merchant among the number of Benefactors to his Countrey, while he exposeth as well his life as goods, to the hazzard of infinite dangers, sometime for medi∣cinall Drugges and preseruatiues of our liues in extre∣mitie of sicknesse;* another, for our food or cloathing in t•mes of scarsitie and want, haply for vsefull necessaries for our vocations, and callings: or lastly, for those, Sensus & animi oblectamenta, which the Almightie prouidence hath purposely, for our solace and recreation, and for no other end else created,* as Apes, Parrots, Peacockes, Canarie, and all singing Birds; rarest Flowers for colour and smell, pretious Stones of all sorts, Pearle, Amber, Corall, Cristall, all manner of sweete odou•s, fruites, infinitely differing in forme and taste: Colours of all sorts,* for painting, dying, &c. but I proceed.
Sixt and lastly, touching Mechanicall Arts and Artists, whosoeuer labour for their liuelihood and gaine, haue no Page 13 share at all in Nobilitie or Gentry: As Painters, Stage-players• Tamblers, ordinary Fidlers, Inne-keepers, Fen∣cers, Iuglers, Dancers, Mountebancks, Bearewards, and the like; (except the custome of the place determine the contrary) as Her•d•tus and Xenophon* witnesse to haue beene obserued, both among the Aegyptians, Scythians, and Corinthians. The reason is,* because their bodies are spent with labour and trauaile, and men that are at their worke, Assidui & accibui vmbratiles esse cogumur. Yea, if a Noble man borne in captiuitie, or constrained through any other necessitie, shall exercise any manuall occupation or Art, hee by the opinion of some, loseth his Nobilitie Ciuill, but not Christian,* and shall at his returne bee restored. Where I said the custome of the Country, I intend thus: by the law of Mahomet the Grand Signior, or great Turke himselfe, is bound to exer∣cise some manuall Trade or Occupation (for none must be idle:) as Solyman the Magnificent, that so threatned Vienna, his trade was making of Arrow-heads; Ach∣mat the last, horne rings for Archers, and the like.
From the roote and branches, let vs taste the fruite,* which fall not (like the Apples of Sodoms) with a light touch into nothing, but are as those of Hesperides, gol∣den, and out of the vulgar reach.
First, Noble or Gentlemen ought to bee preferred in Fees, Honors, Offices, and other dignities of command and gouernment before the common people.
They are to be admitted neere,* and about the person of the Prince, to be of his Counsel in warre, and to beare his Standard.
We ought to giue credit to a Noble or Gentleman, before any of the inferior sort.
He must not be arrested, or pleaded against vpon co∣senage.
We must attend him, and come to his house, and not •e to ours.
Page 14His punishment ought to be more fauourable, & honora∣ble vpon his tryall, and that to bee by his Peeres of the same Noble ranke.
He ought in all sittings, meetings, and salutations, to haue the vpper hand, and greatest respect.
They must be cited by Bill or Writing, to make their appearance.
In criminall causes, Noblemen may appeare by their Arturney, or Procurator.
They ought to take their recreations of hunting, haw∣king, &c. freely, without controule in all places.
Their imprisonment ought not to bee in base manner, or so strict as others.
They may eate the best and daintiest meate that the place affordeth; to weare at their pleasure Gold, Iewels, the best apparell, and of what fashion they please, &c.
Beside, Nobilitie stirreth vp emulation in great Spi∣rits, not onely of equalling others, but excelling them; as in Cimon, the elder Scipio Africanus, Decius the sonne, Alexander, Edward our Blacke Prince, and many others.
It many times procureth a good marriage, as in Ger∣many, where a faire Coate and a Crest, is often preferred before a good reuenew.
It is a spurre in braue and good Spirits, to beare in mind those things which their Ancestors haue nobly at∣chieued.
It transferreth it selfe vnto Posteritie; and as for the most part wee see the children of Noble Personages, to beare the lincaments and resemblance of their Parents: so in like manner, for the most part they possesse their vertues and Noble dispositions, which euen in their ten∣derest yeares, will but forth and discouer it selfe.
Hauing discoursed of Nobilitie in Generall, the diuisi∣on, and vse thereof: giue me leaue in a word, to in•eigh against the pittifull abuse thereof, which like a plague, I think, hath infected the whole world. Euery vndeseruing Page 15 and base Peasant ayming at Nobilitie: which miserable ambition hath so furnished both Towne & Country with Coates of a new list; that were Democritus liuing, hee might haue laughing matter for his life. In Naples, such is the pride of euery base groome, that though he be di∣stalla, he must be termed Signore, and scarce will •e open a note from a poore Calz•lai•, to whom he hath beene a twelue month indebted for his Bootes, if D•n be not in the superscription.
In Venice likewise, euery Mechanique is a Magnifice, though his magnificenza walketh the Market but with a Chequin.
In France, euery Peasant and common Lacquay, is sa∣luted by name of Mounsieur, or Sire, the King himselfe hauing no other Title. The word Sire immediatly pro∣ceeding from Cyrus, the Persian word for a Lord or great Prince,* as H. Stephanus well noteth; or as it pleaseth some, from 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 authoritie, or 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a Lord or Gouernor, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Goe but from Paris to Anjo•,* and see if you find not all, from the Count to the Esculiers, al∣lyed either to the King, some Prince of the blood, Noble Peere, or other.
In the Low Countries, mine old Host at Arnhem in Gil∣drerland, changed his Coate and Crest thrice in a fort∣night, because it did not please his young Wife. For there ye must vnderstand, they are all Gentlemen by a Grant, (they say) from Charles the fift, in considerati∣on of a great summe of money they lent him in time of his warres. Come into what house soeuer, though miju heer weert, be but a Gardiner, Ropemaker, or Aqua•ita seller, you shal be sure to haue his Armes, with the Beauer full faced (allowed to none but Kings and Princes) in his Glasse-window, with some ingenious Motto or other of his owne deuice. I remember one T•link there, gaue for his Coate a wilde Goose in the water, with this witty one; Volans, natans. Another, three Hogs falling vpon a Page 16 Dog, who was lugging one of their fellowes; with this, aEndracht mackt macht. Another, three great drinking Bowles, Orbiquiers, with this truly Dutch, and more tollerable then the rest, vnderneath, Quem non f•••re disertum? with infinite others of like Nature: yet the an∣cient Nobilitie (whereof there are many Honorable fa∣milies; as Hohenlo, Egment, Horne, Brede•ode, Waggen••r, Betsolaër, with sundry others) keepe themselues entire, and maintaining their ancient houses and reputation, free from scandall of dishonour, as well as wee laugh at these their boorish deuices.
Some againe, by altering letters or syllables, or adding to their names, will insinuate themselues into Noble hou∣ses, and not sticke many times to beare their Coates.
But the most common and worst of all, is in all places the ordinary purchasing of Armes and Honors for Mo∣ney, very preiudiciall to true Nobilitie and politique go∣uernment: for who will hazzard his person and estate to infinite dangers for Honour, when others at home may haue it si•e sudore & sanguin•, onely by bleeding in the vena c•n•, called marsupium? The pure Oyle cannot min∣gle with the water, no more this extracted quintessence and Spirit of Vertue, with the dregges and subsistence of vnworthinesse.*Euripides, when his Father told him he was knighted, made him this reply; Good Father, you haue that which euery man may haue for his Money. And certainely, Vertue dum petis ar du•, will not stoope to take vp her reward in the streete. The French man is so bold, as to terme such intruders Gentil-villaines; but I dare not vse that word, lest some that challenge the first part of it, should returne me the latter.
Lastly, to conclude, most pittifull is the pride of ma∣ny, who when they are nobly borne, not onely staine their stocke with vice, and all base behauiour, relying and vaunting of their long pedigrees, and exploits of their Fathers, (themselues liuing in sloath and idlenesse) Page 17 disparage and disgrace those, who by their vertuous en∣deuours are rising. To these and such, I oppose Marius, and that stout reply of his in Salust: They contemne me• as an vpstart, I scorn• their sloath and basenesse. Againe, What they idlely heave and reade at home, my selfe hath ei∣ther acted or seene; if they scorne me, let them scorne their Ancestors, who came by their Nobilitie as I haue done: If they 〈◊〉 mine Honor, let them also enuy my labours, mine innocence, my perils, &c. Now see how equally they deale: that which they arrogate to themselues from the vertue of others, that they deny me from mine owne, because I haue no Images, and my Nobilitie is new, &c. Shortly after: I cannot, to prooue my descent, bring forth the Images of my Ancestors, their Triumphs, their Consul∣ships; but if neede be, I can shew Launces, my Ensigne, Caparisons, and other such warlike implements, beside a number of scarres vpon my breast: these are my Images, my Nobilitie, not left me by descent and inheritance, &c. And as resolute of late yeares, was the answer of Ver∣dugo a Spaniard, Commander in Friseland, to certaine of the Spanish Nobilitie, who murmured at a great feast, the sonne of a Hang-man should take place aboue them, (for so he was, and his name importeth:) Gentlemen (quoth he) question not my birth, or who my Father was, I am the sonne of mine owne desert and Fortune; if any man dares as much as I haue done, let him come and take the Tables •nd with all my heart.